Rising Star Games, XBOX 360
Deadly Premonition has a pretty straight forward premise: F.B.I. agent Francis York Morgan is sent to the sleepy town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of a teenage girl.
So far, so ordinary. THEN IT GOES COMPLETELY BONKERS.
You play the part of York's imaginary friend Zach. Throughout, York chats happily to you about 80's movies and punk bands, seemingly unbothered by the mysterious 'Raincoat Killer' who's picking off the women of Greenvale one by one.
Your investigations around town interrogating the locals are sandwiched in between mind numbingly boring combat sections, picking up such vital clues as 'Sugared Doughnut' and 'Root Beer' and avoiding zombies who kill you by climbing into your mouth.
(These zombies are never properly explained and no other character in the game mentions them. Oh, and also, if York holds his breath, they can't see him. Obviously.)
Your F.B.I. duties also include giving an old woman a lift so her cooking pot doesn't get cold and going fishing.
Deadly Premonition surprises at every turn, and just when you think it can't get anymore ridiculous, it will have you laughing out loud at the screen.
Suddenly, in one level, you're not York anymore but playing the killer - IN THE 1950s. FOR NO REASON. Then, you're taking advice from a cup of coffee. Then, you're following a dog. Then, you're discussing sandwiches with a man in a gas mask to a soundtrack of terrible acid jazz.
The whole thing ends with your love-interest being abused and committing suicide, but not before York has failed to work out the identity of the killer (he's the mutated leader of a cross-dressing sex cult) and allowed 90% of Greenvale to be brutally killed. Hang on, two levels ago we were chatting to Zach about Kevin Bacon movies!
Despite the crushingly dull end-of-game bosses, tedious loading times and awkward controls, Deadly Premonition succeeds as a game because the sheer joy it's programmers put into it shines through. Even though the Twin Peaks inspired story is bizarre, it stays just the right side of nonsensical, always working within the game's own logic. This isn't just a collection of self consciously weird set-pieces - it does actually make sense (sort of). And by the time it's all over, you'll be so acclimatized to Deadly Premonition's world, you'll find yourself craving for obscure jazz and psychic coffee.
This is an ACTUAL GAME and you can buy it here